Second, churches must contact their political leaders. In DC, the Missionary Baptists are leading the way with a postcard campaign, calling for a vote from the people to decide on this important issue. Other groups (such as the Progressive Baptists) are mobilizing. Hopefully, the Southern Baptists (whose lobbying influence is huge) will stand up and be counted. Nationally, church headquarters from every denomination must start a letter writing and lobbying campaign to key congressmen.
Until now, church activism has rarely been multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Yet, the recent victories of marriage amendments in Arizona, California, and Florida have demonstrated a new model for moral and political engagement. As part of this new unified approach, black churches must communicate with the Congressional Black Caucus. Hispanic leaders must also contact the Hispanic Caucus.
Finally, there must be grassroots mobilization and education. The most effective blocking mechanism to foil the advances of gay marriage has been informed grassroots voters, especially when they threaten to throw politicians out of office.
There have been 29 votes in states across the country as to whether gay marriage should be legalized. In every vote, the people have reaffirmed their support for traditional marriage, rejecting the prospect of legalizing gay marriage. The important reasons why a majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage often do not get fully reported and discussed during a contentious campaign, where the news reports tend to be of the “he said/she said” variety.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have recently begun to frame their case by saying that religions should not be forced to solemnize any marriages that are inconsistent with their faith, but that the state should grant civil marriages to all in the name of “equality.” They claim that you can separate civil marriages from religious marriages cleanly and simply. But you can’t.
For the vast majority of our citizenry, marriage does have spiritual elements that cannot be easily ignored. The institution of marriage, which predates our country by thousands of years, brings together the two halves of humanity to form mutual sacred commitments. This has been taught by virtually every faith to every generation of humankind.
Now, because gay activists have succeeded for the first time in making marriage a political issue, we are being told to put aside thousands of years of history and the teachings of almost every faith community and simply accept same-sex marriage in the words of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom “whether you like it or not.”
Over 300 gay-affirming clergy will descend on Washington for two lobbying days, May 4th and 5th. They intend to let their voices be heard in the halls of Congress, advocating for every piece of legislation that zeroes in on gay interests. This same group will undoubtedly make major campaign contributions along with their requests for help. These kinds of lobbying efforts mean that biblically faithful churchgoers and conservatives must engage more than ever before. We cannot just assume that since the majority of citizens believe like us that our elected officials will simply do the right thing. We must let our voice be heard loud and clear…now!
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.